Sweet potatoes are an amazing food with numerous health benefits across the board. These sweet, starchy orange delights are a fantastic source of vitamins, fibre, potassium, and other nutrients that your body needs!
Sweet potatoes are classified as a root vegetable and are not interchangeable with "yams", which are much drier and starchy.
Listed below are a variety of health benefits, have fun!
Sweet potato can fight against cancer
Sweet potato contains a vast source of beta-carotene which acts as an antioxidant in the body. When consumed, it turns into vitamin A.
The ingestion of antioxidants may help reduce the chance of lung & prostate cancer. Unstable molecules can cause some cancers due to free radicals. If the amount of free radicals becomes too high, damage can occur.
Beta-carotene has also been shown to reduce the risk of an individual developing colorectal cancer.
Studies have shown that purple coloured sweet potato is the most effective at fighting cancer cells.
This variation of sweet potato can restrict the growth of specific cancers. These include gastric, breast, and colon cancer.
Sweet potato's anthocyanin content is believed to be the reason behind its anti-cancer property when it comes to breast & gastric cancers.
Summary: Sweet potatoes contain a high amount of beta-carotene and antioxidants which helps to prevent certain types of cancers forming.
Sweet Potato Can Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Sweet potato is commonly prescribed by doctors in order to increase the potassium levels in the blood of the patient.
Sweet potato leaves are able to suppress the oxidation process in humans. This, in turn, leads to a lower chance of cardiovascular disease.
It is believed that sweet potatoes have a large amount of anti-oxidant properties due to their high-levels of radical scavenging activity.
The high level of anthocyanin in the purple sweet potato actually contributes to the vegetable's ability to decrease the chance of coronary diseases.
Even the American Heart Association encourage people to consume potassium-rich foods in order to keep their cardiovascular system in check.
A serving of sweet potato (125g) is said to consist of 260mg of potassium. This equals about 6% of your daily consumption of potassium.
Summary: Sweet potato boasts a high level of potassium which in turn can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The purple sweet potato provides anthocyanin which contributes to the vegetable's ability to decrease the chance of coronary diseases.
Sweet Potato Can Improve Your Vision
Eye health is dictated by vitamin A. Sweet potatoes contain a large amount of beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A within the body.
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) stated that a baked sweet potato in its skin will provide roughly 1,403 mcg of vitamin A. This is approximately 561% of a person's daily requirement.
Along with potassium, vitamin A actually acts as an antioxidant, helping to prevent a variety of different diseases.
Vitamin A is responsible for the structure of the retina and the formation of the pigments that are responsible for light absorption. A lack of this vitamin can lead to blindness in extreme cases.
There are many different eye conditions that can prevail from a lack of vitamin A. Including:
⦁ Dryness of the cornea ⦁ Ulceration of the cornea ⦁ conjunctiva
Sweet potatoes also provide a large amount of vitamin C & E. A deficiency in vitamin C has been linked to eye cataracts.
Summary: Sweet potatoes have a significant source of vitamin A, C & E. These vitamins are paramount for the operation of the human eye. Deficiencies in these vitamins can cause total blindness, night blindness, malformation of the retina, and eye cataracts.
Sweet potato can regulate your blood pressure
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that people avoid eating food that contains a large amount of sodium (salt). The sweet potato doesn't contain much salt and contains potassium which aids heart health.
Magnesium is a vitamin that helps control blood pressure. Magnesium is also considered an effective dietary component in the prevention of hypertension.
The consumption of these two vitamins can significantly reduce the chance of an individual developing a stroke or a coronary issue.
Summary: Sweet potato contains a large amount of magnesium. This helps inhibit the development of hypertension in individuals.
Sweet potato can help you manage your diabetes
A study conducted in 2008 concluded that white-skinned sweet potato can improve insulin sensitivity in people who have type 2 diabetes.
A study conducted in 2000 found that rats who consumed sweet potato showed higher levels of insulin resistance than those who consumed an insulin sensitizer called "Troglitazone".
It is thought that people who consume a large amount of fibre appear to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Adults are recommended to consume between 20g-35g of fibre depending on their sex and age.
a single serving of sweet potato (mashed - 125g) contains around 2.5g of fibre.
Sweet potatoes are rated low-high on the glycemic index scale. Several studies have shown that sweet potatoes can reduce resistance to insulin and low blood sugar levels.
Sweet potatoes release sugar into the blood slowly. Unlike other starchy foods, sweet potato can control the blood sugar levels of individuals so that it doesn't become dangerously low or high.
The Beauregard is the most effective at regulating blood sugar levels. This variant of sweet potato is known to have a similar protein structure to caiapo. This improves the cholesterol levels of individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Sweet potato contains pectin, a soluble fibre which is effective in reducing food consumption and therefore spikes in blood sugar.
The amount of insoluble fibres in sweet potato (75%) is essential in promoting insulin sensitivity. This helps regulate the level of sugar within an individual's blood.
The magnesium content of sweet potatoes has also been shown to minimise the risk of individuals developing type 2 diabetes.
Summary: Sweet potatoes release sugar slowly into the blood which helps regulate blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes.
Sweet potato can reduce the chance of vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency can cause a wave of different issues for people. Here are a few examples:
⦁ Blindness ⦁ Infertility ⦁ Throat & chest infections ⦁ Poor wound healing ⦁ Dry eyes & skin ⦁ Acne & breakouts ⦁ Delayed growth
The deficiency of vitamin A is a serious problem that threatens developing countries primarily. The lack of vitamin A in an individual can significantly increase their chance of succumbing to an infectious disease.
Beta-Carotene is transformed into vitamin A within our livers. Luckily, sweet potato contains a large amount of beta-carotene. For every molecule of beta-carotene, two molecules of vitamin A are created.
Summary: Vitamin A deficiency is brutal and grave. Sweet potatoes contain a large amount of beta-carotene which can increase the amount of vitamin A that an individual gets from their diet, reducing their susceptibility to these awful symptoms.
Sweet potato can promote your body's ability to digest
Due to the fibre content of sweet potato, an individual will experience a lower risk of constipation. The sweet potato will also increase an individual's digestive tract and its health. The increased intake of dietary fibres will result in a lowered risk of colorectal cancers.
The majority of laxatives that are used today are made of fibres. Because sweet potato consists of a fair amount of fibre, they can improve your bowel movements.
Summary: Sweet potato can reduce the risk of colorectal cancers and can promote a healthy gut.
Sources: Gut health & digestion (24)
Sweet potato can help you regulate/lose weight
When eaten properly and in the correct amounts, sweet potato can assist in weight loss. This is because of the soluble and fermentable fibre that increases satiety. This, in turn, gives the body a self-sustaining mechanism for weight regulation.
One of the major soluble dietary fibres that are found in sweet potatoes (pectin) can help an individual consume less food by increasing the satiety hormones in the body.
Studies have found that the more fibre an individual consumes, the lower their body-weight tends to be. This means, eating a sweet potato will increase the fibre content in the body and therefore reduce overall body-weight.
Summary: Sweet potato has soluble fibre that increases satiety, reducing the amount you snack throughout the day. This will decrease the number of calories that you consume and subsequentially lower your body-weight.
Sweet potato can improve your hair and skin
Hair loss is primarily caused by alopecia. A vitamin that combats this is vitamin E as it contains antioxidant properties that help reduce the amount of oxidative stress in an individual. Sweet potato contains this vitamin and therefore will help with hair loss prevention.
There are a wealth of benefits when it comes to skin health and sweet potato. Here are a few examples:
Effective dermatological treatment to treat photoaging (premature ageing of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation) & hyperpigmentation (used to describe darker patches of skin) Vitamin C is effective at neutralising the oxidative stress caused by exposure to UV light. Vitamin C and vitamin E can significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer. Vitamin C is required in the production of collagen, the main structural protein of the skin. Vitamin C contains anti-inflammatory properties which can help with skin diseases such as acne. It can also improve the body's ability to heal wounds.
Vitamin A has been scientifically proven to treat and manage sun-damaged skin. This vitamin is also effective in the treatment of skin cancers.
Vitamin A can inhibit the rate of natural cell ageing as it is a stimulant of collagen.
Summary: Sweet potatoes contain a large number of Vitamins, particularly A, C & E. These vitamins promote healthy hair and skin.
Sweet potato can contain anti-inflammatory activity
Purple sweet potatoes have been studied and have been found to inhibit the production of inflammatory components in the body.
Sweet potatoes have a large amount of choline. This nutrient has many benefits. One of these benefits is reducing inflammatory responses which result in less inflammation.
Anthocyanins are essential in the reduction of inflammation in colon cancer cells. They also reduce the proliferation of specific cancer cells!
Summary: The fact that sweet potato has choline and anthocyanins make the vegetables a staple in dietary food sources.
Sweet potatoes contain anti-microbial properties
Studies on this are limited. However, reports of some level of antimicrobial activity are found in sweet potato.
Some studies have found that ethanol and acetone extracts that are found in sweet potato leaves possess antimicrobial properties. These bacteria can cause pneumonia and typhoid. The fibre that is present in sweet potato is said to inhibit the growth of foodborne bacterias. This will reduce the amount of sickness of individual experiences from food.
Sweet potato leaf powder has been shown to reduce the chance of salmonella also.
Summary: Sweet potato extracts possess anti-microbial properties which can help prevent and treat foodborne illnesses and pathogens.
Sweet potato can guard against ulcers
Methanol extract from the root of a sweet potato can protect the gastrointestinal tissues from ulcers.
Ethanol-induced ulcers can be prevented by consuming the flour in the roots of a sweet potato. It does this by reducing the swelling in the surrounding tissues.
Extracts from the vegetable aid the healing of wounds around the body as they have free radical scavengers.
Summary: Sweet potatoes can help repair wounds around the body and prevent gastric ulceration.
Sweet potato can stop you stressing!
Because sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A, C & E, they have numerous health benefits regarding the stress levels of an individual.
Vitamin E is fantastic for promoting hair growth. It is especially helpful to those who are suffering from alopecia whose hair loss is due to oxidative stress.
Vitamin C is fantastic for a whole bunch of reasons:
⦁ Dermatological treatment to treat hyperpigmentation & photoaging ⦁ Significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer ⦁ Synthesis of collagen ⦁ Manage acne ⦁ Promote healing of wounds
Vitamin A is a fantastic treatment for sun-damaged skin, along with skin cancer. It also stimulates collagen which inhibits photoaging of the skin.
Summary: Sweet potatoes contain a vast amount of vitamins that can help an individual cope with stress. These vitamins include A, C & E.
Sources: Hair loss (44)
Sweet potatoes can help you remember things!
Some studies have shown that sweet potato (purple) contains anthocyanin which is said to contain memory-enhancing effects. However, more research is required to confirm this.
Summary: Sweet potato (purple) may help you remember more things due to the anthocyanin found in the vegetable.
Sources: Memory enhancing properties (45),
Sweet potato can boost your fertility
In women, vitamin A that sweet potato contains is able to enhance their child-bearing capabilities. Vitamin A plays an important role in improving reproductive performance. A lack of this vitamin can lead to secondary infertility.
Sweet potatoes include a healthy dose of iron. This is a crucial mineral in promoting the fertility of a woman. Anaemia is a cause of infertility amongst women. This can usually be reversed with increased consumption of iron.
Summary: Iron is essential for fertility levels amongst women who are of child-bearing age. Sweet potatoes can play a crucial role in reversing secondary infertility.
Sweet potatoes are highly nutritious
Sweet potato contains a lot of different vitamins and minerals that help the body function normally. Here are a few examples:
⦁ Potassium - helps regulate an individual's blood pressure ⦁ Dietary fibre - allows for proper bowel movements and gut health ⦁ Vitamin A - boost fertility, good vision, improve hair, and skin ⦁ Vitamin C - reduce the effects of photoaging & hyperpigmentation, reduce skin cancer, anti-inflammatory, and reduced risk of eye cataracts ⦁ Vitamin B-6 - Proper brain function, correct nervous system functionality and improve overall mood
Summary: sweet potato is packed full of nutrients that help regulate the body's proper functions.
Sources: Sweet potato nutrition (50)
Sweet potato can increase brain functionality
Your brain may actually benefit thanks to the healthy dose of vitamin B-6 found in sweet potatoes. This vitamin is responsible for overall brain functionality.
Vitamin B-6 helps the body create serotonin, a chemical that helps regulate the mood of an individual. It also helps create norepinephrine, which helps your body cope with stress.
Vitamin B-6 also assists in the creation of melatonin, a chemical that helps regulate your body clock and circadian rhythm.
Summary: Sweet potatoes contain a healthy dose of vitamin B-6 which helps regulate proper brain function amongst other chemicals throughout the body.
Sources: Vitamin B-6 (51)
Sweet potatoes may support the immune system
Your immune system may benefit from the consumption of sweet potato because sweet potato is rich in vitamin C. This vitamin enhances the iron absorption which can decrease the chance of individual developing anaemia.
Also, a person who consumes no vitamin C is at serious risk of developing scurvy, this is due to a lack of collagen production in the body.
Sweet potato provides a healthy dose of vitamin C. 12.8mg per 125g. It is recommended that an adult woman consume 75 mg and a man 90 mg.
Summary: Because sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C, they can help boost your immunity.
Sources: Immune system (52)
Sweet potatoes have a lot of health benefits across the board. ranging from eye health to brain functionality. This sweet, starchy, and quite frankly, irresistible food is a fantastic addition to anyone's diet.
We have more general knowledge of the sweet potato here on our wiki.
You can also download a summary sheet which has all the key points and illustrations nicely presented for your reading pleasure.